What is a Hood Film?


Introduction

Hood film is a film genre originating in the United States, which features aspects of urban African Americans or Hispanic-American culture – such as hip hop music, street gangs, honour killings, racial discrimination, organised crime, gangster, gang affiliation scenes, gangsta rap, broken families, drug use and trafficking, illegal immigration into the US and the problems of young people coming of age or struggling – amid the relative poverty and violent gang activity within such neighbourhoods.

Background

Critic Murray Forman (2002) notes that the “spatial logic” of hip-hop culture, with heavy emphasis on place-based identity, locates “black youth urban experience within an environment of continual proximate danger”, and this quality defines the hood film.

In a 1992 essay in Cineaction, Canadian critic Rinaldo Walcott identified the hood film’s primary concerns as issues of masculinity and “(re)gaining manhood for black men” (McCullough, 2006).

Among the directors who have made films in this genre are John Singleton, Mario Van Peebles, F. Gary Gray, Hughes Brothers, and Spike Lee.

The genre has also been parodied with such films as Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.

The genre reached the height of its popularity in the ’90s due to the acclaim of the films New Jack City, Boyz n the Hood, Juice and Menace II Society.

With the plethora of films both dramas and comedies, hood films of the 1990’s are in a sense neo-Blaxploitation films and Mexploitation films.

References

Forman, M. (2002) The Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.

McCollough, J. (2006) Rude and the Representation of Class Relations in Canadian Film. Working on Screen: Representations of the Working Class in Canadian Cinema. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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